There are two instant book sales killers.
Poor quality book covers and weak book descriptions will always turn away potential book buyers.
Both will either fail to attract attention or, worse, drive potential book buyers away.
When you can get these two elements right, you help your book marketing enormously.
What makes a bad book?
The obvious reason a book fails to sell is that it is a bad book.
There can be a hundred reasons why this is the case.
But the most common problems are that it’s poorly written, with glaring typos, grammatical and spelling errors.
Or it might have a weak first chapter that fails to grab a reader’s attention or interest.
Another possibility is that the book is about a topic or genre that is not popular, such as home blowfly breeding or My Life as a Saab Mechanic – A Memoir.
There is little you can do to save a book that has minimal market appeal.
But if a book is reasonably good, very good, or even fantastic, and it is not selling, the two book sales killers could be causing the lack of sales.
It has an unattractive book cover and a poorly written book description.
The good news is that you can quickly and easily remedy both of these elements.
Great book covers sell books
I see a lot of books, which are perhaps quite good and very well written.
But they suffer from the author’s idea that apart from being a great writer, they are also an excellent book cover designer.
Sadly, this is rarely, if ever, the case.
Unless you are skilled at using Photoshop and have some basic knowledge about design principles and focal points, forget about going to all the trouble of designing an awful cover yourself and get a professional.
A pre-made cover will almost always be better than what you can do yourself. And at between $40-60, they are extremely cheap.
Even a custom-designed cover at around $250 is still good value. It will attract far more attention than a homemade cover.
The other reason to have a professionally designed cover is that the image has to work in many sizes, particularly as a thumbnail image.
This tiny image is the first thing a potential reader comes across as they scan online book retailers for a new book to read.
It is digital marketing 101 to attract attention as quickly as possible.
How your book cover looks as a thumbnail is absolutely vital.
It needs to attract attention in seconds, within a long list of other thumbnail images.
Book cover examples
I won’t embarrass anyone by taking book covers from Amazon to show you as examples.
Instead, I will embarrass myself here by showing you an example of how I learned my lesson.
My first homemade cover was disastrous, and then my second attempt was probably worse.
Finally, I got a professional cover designer to go to work on my book cover.
Here are the three versions of one of my books and how they looked as thumbnails.
Do you see the problems with the first two covers that I designed myself? They were real book sales killers. Okay, you can stop laughing now.
Yes, my author’s name was unreadable in the thumbnail view. The title was hardly much better, while the subtitle disappeared in the second version.
As well as these obvious problems, the first two images are single-layered, dull, uninteresting, and utter failures at attracting attention.
The third cover was, of course, professionally designed and cost me $240.
And yes, the book started selling much better after I had a professionally designed cover.
People could, at least, read the book title and my name.
Of all the marketing materials you can use to promote a book, your book cover is number one. Never take shortcuts or design it on the cheap.
A good book description needs to hook a reader fast
It’s an old truism that authors are particularly dreadful at writing their own bios. You could say the same about book descriptions.
I really do see some terrible attempts when I scan Amazon book descriptions.
The most common problem is that they are far too short as if written as an afterthought, and without much care.
The second is that they fail to give a reader anything of interest or ask them questions.
After the cover, which does its job to attract attention, the book description is there to hook a reader.
You need to try building rapport. Read these two examples of a fiction book description.
“This is a story about a man who is dying and he meets a woman, who he falls in love with. They share their thoughts about life and how they have been wrong about many things.”
It is rather awful. It would probably turn people off the book.
Now, let’s get a copywriter on the job.
“And in the end… he found true love.
Imagine being transferred to a hospice to live out the last days of your life, only to find the love of your life you know you cannot enjoy forever?
This is a story of finding love within boundaries, as the main character is at the end of his life.
What happens when people have come to that place in their lives where to do not regret anymore what they have done or had not, and finally accept life’s true intent of having reached the end?
Find out how an interesting twist so close to the end gives a man a completely new but short purpose in life, something others might never find throughout their whole life?
A story where romance meets drama… about reflective thoughts… about finding love at last…”
Do you need any convincing of which book description would attract a reader’s attention and interest?
The second example asks a question, which involves the reader. Then later, it has a call to action.
It also uses short paragraphs to highlight each element.
I purchased this short piece from a copywriter on Fiverr.
A quick search of this site brings up a long list of copywriters who offer their services at a very reasonable price.
It’s worth the time and effort to try and find a copywriter who can help you.
While Fiverr is known for $5 tasks, expect to pay around $30-$40 for a well-written 300-word book description.
That’s still good value for money for fiction book descriptions.
If your book isn’t selling so well, would a $40 pre-made cover and a $30 book description be a good investment?
Definitely. Because they are the two most crucial factors in convincing people to buy your book.
I would always recommend buying a quality book cover.
But if you want to write a book description yourself, keep in mind that you are convincing a reader to buy your book. It’s not a summary of your story.
For non-fiction, such as self-help books, you can use bullet points to list the key elements of your book.
In either case, sell your book in your description.
Don’t take free, cheap, and quick shortcuts that will turn out to be book sales killers.